Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Improvising - Bricks Series #7

It's time to get started with my experimentation. Last week I dumped out the baggie of small scraps from my on-going "Bricks" project and discovered that it's harder than I thought to 'just put things together'. One does need some sort of plan.

Based on the number of narrow strips in my collection, I decided to work with the 'housetop' style. So named in many of the Gee's Bend quilts, it's basically the log cabin concept;  a central shape surrounded by strips.

Just one block will complete my small top as in these bed-sized examples:

Or you can make numerous blocks and sew them together:

(Here is the original top again... 

...the mother of six little quilts so far.) 


My goal in this series is to use up all of the fabrics gleaned from the original top but it seems I will never get rid of it all!
In addition to the many small scraps left from the above quilts, I still have quite a lot of the original rectangles (3.5" x 6"). I decided to use some of them for the backing of #7 in a similar layout seen in the original top. They seemed a bit too large in scale for this little piece so I folded them in half and used a scissors to cut them into two pieces. I needed to trim some fraying edges and straighten crooked sides which I am doing with a scissors - 'by eye'.
I decided not to use any rotary cutters or measuring devices for this project. The resulting shapes will not be exactly the same in size so sewing them together should be interesting.

I'll share completed top and backing in a future post - hopefully soon.

For an inspiring look at more improvisational quilts see this site:

Improvisational Quilts of Susan Allen Hunter

Friday, January 29, 2016

Was it Something I Said?

I noticed that I lost a bunch of followers in one felled swoop recently. I checked my more recent post for anything that may be offensive!
After hearing that others had the same experience, I learned that it was due to Google deciding to require followers to sign up for Google Plus. They recommend we let the now absent 'followers'  know through a blog post which seems like ridiculous advice now that those who were dropped CAN NO LONGER ACCESS THE BLOG.
Well, anyway. I will carry on a bit more but resent this controlling approach.
Any input from other bloggers or followers?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Word-of-the-Year -- EXPERIMENT

On the top of an old sewing machine
 at the entrance to my sewing room
I've been drawn for some time now to the kind of quilts, mostly utilitarian in nature, that reflect a 'use what you have',  improvisational style. Most seem to have been created by women who had to use what was available to them and they made it work; in many cases coming up with what I consider very interesting pieces; unpredictable, exciting, unique. The primary purpose of these bedcovers was to keep their family warm not to win a ribbon at the Fair or be compared to other quilts in a judged show. They provided an outlet for innate creativity along with being serviceable.
My mind kept returning to this type of quilt but with so much yet to finish I kept putting off experimenting in this style. So this year I'll focus on experimentation; still having a goal of  finishing at least thing or two from the past, of course.Using different fabrics from my stash, working with limited scraps, trying different ways of doing things (scissors vs. rotary cutter? Dare I?) and just seeing where it takes me is my goal.

Books like A Communion of The Spirits by Roland Freeman and Unconventional and Unexpected by Rod Kiracofe as well as books with images and stories of the amazing Quilts of Gees Bend and virtually all of my quilt history and state documentation books have interesting examples.  

Rail Fence
by my Aunt Agnes

The quilts made by my rural Minnesota Norwegian Aunt Agnes also qualify. This one is made of corduroy and is featured in Minnesota Quilts; Creating Connections with our Past.

At the end of my previous post I posed a question. I challenged a couple of friends to think about a word that would represent a plan for the year. On January 1 we met to share our words. Before they arrived after lunch I quickly got busy and made my word into a textile reminder. I used a different fabric for each letter; wool, ticking, corduroy, 70's, a 30's feedsack, solids .....representing the broad variety I want to incorporate in my work this year.

I found a chunk of printed denim which became the background and I realized as I worked that I liked the fringed selvage. (It's hard to see on the bottom against the white design wall)
The sides will be left raw also. I just folded over the top and pinned it to my design wall. My first experiment! It was so much fun to make decisions as I went along. New for me and very liberating. I will work on it a bit more and find a place on my wall for it to serve as a reminder should I begin to think I have to finish something before I can play.

By the way, my friends arrived and we shared the words each of us chose and the reasons. This generated some very interesting conversation and allowed us to resulted in our getting to know each other better.

This is a close-up of my  'idea' bulletin board. You can see two buttons I've had poked into the corkboard for a long time.

'What if?' fit in with my plans for 2016.  I don't know where I got it or to what it refers but I took it off and added it to my denim sign.

If you have chosen a word or have other things to share 
please leave a comment. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Fast Approaching

SCREECH. . . .

I finished this wall quilt just in time to hang it in my kitchen for Christmas - and to count as DONE in 2015! Having seen my recent posts on Lone Star quilts you will recognize it as one of several experiments in that design which got left in various states of completion over ten years ago.
I machine quilted the diamonds wanting to save time but then got a bit carried away with the hand quilted wreaths in the corners and setting triangles.

I questioned my sanity at the time but I'm glad I did it now - I think hand quilting always adds a lot. It's hard to get a photo that shows the quilting but this gives you an idea. I have yet to immerse it in clear water to be sure the blue marker I used is gone forever and also to get the look I like...but I wanted to get it up without waiting for it to dry!

As you may know, I am a goal setter and record keeper so naturally I have spent some time reviewing and summarizing the past year. I finished 3 bed quilts ( the major one being the Mariner's Compass Medallion I've blogged about ),
2 crib quilts, 3 wall quilts, 2 doll quilts, several gift items;  pot holders, a pin cushion for an exchange, quilt tote bags as well as a bit of regular sewing - a red fleece poncho for me - pattern and fabric from last year!

A first for me was teaching a hand quilting class which was really fun and I'll do it again next fall.

c. 1900
c. 1910
I attended numerous quilt events including driving to the AQSG seminar in Indianapolis in  September (bought two quilts on the way!) and a Regional Study group meeting in Phoenix, AZ.

I didn't think at first that I'd added more quilts to my vintage collection but, I was wrong. I purchased 7 new pieces.

Even though I sold and donated several items I still end up having more in my collection than last year at this time. I vow to down-size in 2016 by not buying any more and finding new homes for at least a few that I can part with.

So the next step, naturally, is  to think about what I want my quilting life in 2016 to be. In that vein, I challenged a couple of quilting friends to review the past year and come up with ONE WORD that will inform their quilting life in 2016. 

I've chosen mine and will meet with them tomorrow to hear what they've come up with. After that I'll share my choice with you and with any luck, my posts next year should reflect that word/concept at least once in a while. Keep me honest, won't you?

If YOU'D like to choose a quilting word for 2016 please share it in the  'Comments' section.
It would be fun to hear from you!

I wish you all a healthy and productive year doing the things you love.

Happy New Year!